Tiffinni Young Sets Record Straight on Ties to Caraway, Endorses LeVar Thomas

Three weeks ago, we briefly mentioned Tiffinni Young's name in a story about Mayor Tom's potential bid to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison if she decides to run for governor. If Leppert leaves office early, the mayor pro tem would take his place, with either Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway or Vonciel Hill likely serving in that role after the council votes on the position following the May elections.

Caraway is a shoo-in if somehow Hill is ousted, which is where Young, a candidate for Hill's District 5 council seat, enters the conversation. A longtime friend of both Dwaine Caraway and his wife, State Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway, Young was Caraway's appointee to the Park Board.

As mentioned in the piece, Caraway has been introducing Young around town, which to us seems like a strange thing to do -- a council member introducing a candidate running against another council member smells a bit fishy. And we aren't the only ones catching a whiff of the foul odor. The Reverend Ronald Wright, who attended LeVar Thomas' Friday press conference, sees Caraway's actions as a way to consolidate power.

"I think Dwaine's overall agenda is to do what he can do to become mayor," he tells Unfair Park.

Young admits Caraway has been introducing her as a candidate, but scoffs at the notion that he has any ill motives and notes that she's known the Caraways since 1992. "He hasn't pushed me at all. He's a mentor of mine," she says. "The rumors that are out there on the street are exactly that."

She stresses that there's nothing wrong with a sitting council member introducing a family friend that happens to be opposing a council colleague. "It may not be common in Dallas politics, but there are a lot of places where it's common," she says.

By showing up as a supporter at LeVar Thomas' announcement as a candidate for Tennell Atkins' District 8 seat, Young proved she's willing to go against Caraway as Atkins is considered both a friend and ally of the deputy mayor pro tem.

"That's not my concern. My fight is not Mr. Caraway's fight. His fight is not my fight. He has people on his team that don't want to see me make it, so it is what it is. At the end of the day, it's about what's right," she says. "I've forged relationships all across the board. There might be some enemies of Mr. Caraway's that believe in me and my mission, so that's the way I look at it."

Young, who served with Thomas as a teenager on the Dallas Youth Commission, knows his work ethic and says he has a "can-do" attitude. "I'm supporting someone that I know is going to get out there get things done."

Thomas and Young are candidates in abutting districts and are young, 27 and 30 respectively, which Young says allows them to provide fresh energy, new ideas and new innovation. "Obviously what's been in done in the past isn't working, so it's time to give something else a try."

Young, a non-profit consultant, says council member Hill has made promises related to economic development and improvements within the district, and those promises haven't been delivered.

"I've been out in District 5. I've been to the budget town hall meetings and to neighborhood and community meetings where my council person has not been there," she says. "There tends to be a problem where there's an 'I' attitude instead of a 'we' attitude. Because that's what it's about: the community. And to hear I, I, I a lot, that's a problem."

She also disagrees with Hill regarding public ownership of the convention center hotel and the recently passed strengthened smoking ordinance. While Hill has been one of three council members to criticize the hotel project (with Hunt and Rasansky as the others) and was one of five to vote against banning smoking in bars and pool halls, Young "absolutely supports" the hotel and the ban.

"As I travel the county and visit friends in other cities, that's kinda the joke: that Dallas is not a real city. And it's not been a real city because we've not been progressive," Young says regarding the hotel. "To have neighborhoods like this with no new development or recent development, no major retail and all the retail is leaving, certainly that is something that will attract traffic to the city."

Young says her advocacy of the new smoking ordinance was related to clean air and health issues. "I also didn't see any research supporting a loss of jobs or loss of business."

As mentioned yesterday, we'll have more on LeVar Thomas in tomorrow's paper. Thomas' campaign is gaining early momentum, but he's keeping quiet on who's bankrolling his effort. "I have not confirmed with them whether they're ready to go public, but I do have a slew of notable supporters," he says.

Thomas advocates the creation of an inpatient drug facility in the southern sector, which he says will make strides in reducing crime. And his decision to run for city council comes from his time spent teaching middle school, most recently at DA Hulcy Middle School.

"When you see a child with so much potential but isn't being developed properly, you just have to stand up and say something," he tells Unfair Park. "The community is hungry for representation that they can touch, that's accountable to them and that they can be proud of."

Thomas and Young join 10 others filing for council races prior to the March 9 deadline. Thus far, former Park Board member Delia Jasso, Daniel Benchot and Joanne Carroll have filed for the open District 1 seat (Dr. Elba Garcia is leaving because of term limits); former Park Board member Ann Margolin, Brint Ryan and Raj Narayanan have filed for the open District 13 seat (Mitchell Rasansky is leaving because of term limits); Casey Thomas will oppose incumbent Dave Neumann in District 3; Don Robinson will oppose Young and incumbent Vonciel Hill in District 5; Fernando Rubio will oppose incumbent Steve Salazar in District 6; and Gary Springer will oppose incumbent Carolyn Davis in District 7.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten